This article is about popular classic TV shows from the 60s and 70s. I've included comedies, dramas, and soap operas.
I still love watching these programs. Many that are featured on this page can be seen on the Me TV channel, Cozi or Antenna. The fact that there are a few networks devoted entirely to old TV shows is evidence of their enduring popularity.
The TV shows from the 60s and 70s featured a lot of famous stars who made guest appearances on the different programs. Many well known actors appeared on Love, American Style, The Love Boat, Streets of San Francisco, and Fantasy Island.
I hope you enjoy reminiscing about these favorite classic TV shows from the 60s and 70s! There were so many good programs from those two decades, and it's not easy narrowing it down to a few.Credit: Public domain
This was such a quirky show and one of several 60s comedies that had a rural theme. The Clampetts were a poor family who were suddenly worth millions after striking oil on their property. They moved to a mansion in Beverly Hills. It was slapstick comedy, which was all the rage in the 60s. The cast was great, especially Irene Ryan as Granny.
The Beverly Hillbillies was a huge success, and had some of the highest ratings ever for a sitcom.
One of the funniest moments was when Jed was trying to get Jethro enrolled in school. The teacher, seeing them dressed in old, dirty clothes, assumed they could not afford the expensive private school. Jethro said money would not be a problem as long as it wouldn't cost more than $25 million. They were totally unaware of what that fortune really meant.
The supporting cast complimented the leads very well. Mr Drysdale was the unscrupulous banker Mr Drsysdale, and Jane Hathaway was his secretary.
A classic TV show from the 60s that was even more outlandish was Green Acres. They ended up doing opposite to the Clampetts. They moved from a very nice home in Manhattan to a dilapidated shack in the country.
Oliver was played by Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor was his wife Lisa. Oliver was a lawyer and presumably an intelligent man. He buys a farm, sight unseen in Hooterviille and takes his very reluctant wife Lisa there from New York city. Lisa loves the glamorous and exciting life in New York and doesn't want to move. Credit: Public domain
The home turned out to be a shack without even running water or electricity. During the course of the series, Oliver had hassles with the Munro brothers, who were hired to fix up the place. They never did complete the job. One of the "brothers" is actually a woman. Oliver also had endless hassles with the telephone and electrical companies.
His biggest challenge was how to fit in with the bizarre people who lived in the town. Ironically, Lisa befriended them and became popular in the town. Most considered Oliver to be the strange one.
He works on his farm wearing an expensive suit, while Lisa is always immaculately dressed in classy and expensive clothes. Their neighbors, Fred and Doris, adopted a pig that everyone but Oliver seemed to think was a human. Arnold the pig watched TV and did other things not normally characteristic of an animal.
Although she longed for the city, Lisa actually came to enjoy her new life. This was a very funny show that frequently shared stories with Petticoat Junction. These two programs, along with Beverly Hillbillies, were mainstays and huge hits even at the time they were cancelled. CBS wanted to have an entire slate of new programs that would appeal to a younger demographic.
Andy Griffith ShowCredit: Public Domain
The Andy Griffith show was a typical family sitcom from the 60s. It centered around a widower, Andy, who was the local sherriff, and his son Opie. They lived in the quaint town of Mayberry in North Carolina.
The kindly Aunt Bea was living with them as well. Aunt Bea never married, but she occasionally had suitors. Sometimes the men did not have good intentions, and Andy ended up intervening.
The Andy Griffith Show showed people going to church on Sunday with the men in suits and the women wearing hats and gloves. This program was about as wholesome as it gets.
The humor on this show was often more subtle than other sitcoms from that era. Stories often centered around Opie and lessons he had to learn while growing up. Barney sometimes ended up in ridiculous situations, but for the most part this show stayed away from slapstick.
Andy, Don Knotts and Ron Howard remained friends throughout the years. Andy was very saddened at Don Knott's death. Ron kept in contact with Andy until his death in 2012.
The Fugitive starred David Janssen as Dr Richard Kimble. He was convicted of his wife's murder and sent to death row, although he was actually innocent.
A train accident allowed him to escape and thus he became a fugitive, with a relentless police officer, Lt Gerard, determined to capture him. Kimble was haunted by the fact he saw a one armed man fleeing his home the day his wife was killed. He was determined to find this man and prove his innocence.
Each episode showed Kimble on the run from police as he went from one town to another. He found a variety of jobs using an alias. Inevitably, he ended up getting involved in situations where he had to help someone. Often these situations put him at personal risk of being captured by the police, or suffering physical harm.
Kimble was a good man who could not turn away from someone who needed help. Some people that he came in contact with discovered his true identity and they assisted him to escape.
The Fugitive was a great drama and featured a lot of well known actors. Some of them were just getting started with their careers. Many of the stories were implausible, but this is true of most TV programs.
Route 66 TV Series
This drama featured Martin Milner and George Maharis. The stories were about the adventures the men had while driving their Corvette around the USA on the iconic Route 66. This 60s series made both the Corvette into American icons.
It was another quirky drama from the early 60s . Route 66 also featured compelling stories and actors who were very early in their careers. This included Robert Redford, Ed Asner, Robert Duvall, Suzanne Pleshette and many more.
The two main characters in the show, Tod and Buzz, ended up getting involved in the lives of people they encountered as they traveled around the country. Each episode featured a new story and new destination. They even ended up in communities that were not on Route 66.
I Dream of Jeannie
Barbara Eden was charming and wonderful as Jeannie. Yet she wasn't the first choice of series creator Sidney Sheldon. He didn't want a blonde because of the comparisons he thought would be made to Samantha on Bewitched. However after testing other brunettes he decided Barbara was right as the title character.
Credit: Public domainI Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched were the ultimate fantasy shows. Who wouldn't want to be able to blink or wiggle their nose and have whatever they want? It was fun to watch and imagine what life would be like with those powers.
Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman had good chemistry. I Dream of Jeannie wasn't as popular as Bewitched, however, it gained an incredible following later in syndication.
Barbara Eden had wanted to do a reunion movie years later but Larry Hagman declined. Barbara did, however, guest star on Dallas as a former girlfriend to Hagman's character J R Ewing.
Credit: Public domainElizabeth Montgomery became a star playing Samantha. What made this show work so well was the secondary characters were just as entertaining, especially Agnes Moorehead as Endora, and Bernard Fox as Dr Bombay.
The series was popular for many years, and I think the variety of characters is what made it so. Endora was always scheming to break up Samantha and Darren, without any success. Also worth mentioning was the lovable but bumbling Aunt Clara. She always had good intentions, but her spells always seemed to backfire.
Over the years there were many cast changes, due to the deaths or illnesses of the actors. The most prominent, of course, was Dick Sargent replacing Dick York. The lady who played Aunt Clara passed away. Two different actresses played Louise Tate and Gladys Krativz. A character named Esmerelda, appeared for awhile, who was a very shy witch. Paul Lynde also played Samantha's Uncle Arthur.
Elizabeth Montgomery did not like being typecast. Later she did TV movies that were nothing like the character of Samantha. She received a lot of critical acclaim. Elizabeth could play any role convincingly.
The Dick Van Dyke Show
This 60s comedy series concerned Rob Petrie, his wife Laura, and their son Ritchie. Rob was a comedy writer for the Alan Brady Show, and his writing partners were Sally, a single woman always looking for a husband, and Buddy, who always referred to his wife as Pickles.
Dick Van Dyke was a very gifted comic, much like John Ritter became in later years. This program ran for a few seasons beginning in 1961.
The cast decided to end the show while it was still popular. Ritchie was about six when the show began. In later seasons he was seldom seen. The series made good use of flashbacks, recalling when Rob and Laura first met (she couldn't stand him), and Laura giving birth to Ritchie.
Daytime Soaps From the 60s and 70sCredit: Public domain
Most of the soap operas that were on in the 60s and 70s are long gone now. Daytime TV included such shows as Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, The Doctors, Another World, and Somerset.
Three of the shows that were on in the 70s continue to be broadcast today, including Young and Restless, which started in 1973. It has been the #1 rated soap for many years now.
Daytime dramas have declined dramatically in popularity. ABC cancelled the long running All My Children and One Life to Live. Guiding Light and As the World Turns ended on CBS after decades of being on TV.
Dark Shadows was a gothic daytime drama that ran from 1966 to 1971, and was hugely popular. This show featured ghosts, witches, time travel, and monsters. Dark Shadows was unlike any soap opera before it, or since. It certainly is one of the most well remembered series and it still has many fans.
It used to air in the late afternoon. Many young people watched it after school. It became a cult classic.
Many future stars got their start on daytime TV including Meg Ryan, Demi Moore, Ricky Martin, Teri Hatcher, David Hasselhoff, Kathleen Turner, and many more.
The Streets of San Francisco
This classic 70s TV series was filmed on location in San Fransisco. The program featured Karl Malden as veteran Detective Mike Stone, and Michael Douglas was Inspector Steve Keller.
Steve had a lot to learn about police work, and Stone was a great mentor. The two men worked well together. Mike Stone was also a friend to the young detective. The two actors enjoyed working together and became good friends off screen. They remained on good terms until Karl Malden's death. He lived for 97 years and was married to the same woman for decades.
Michael left the series to pursue a successful career in movies as an actor and producer. He was replaced by Richard Hatch. This caused a big drop in ratings and the series was cancelled.
All in the Family
I think All in the Family was one of the highest. rated shows in the 70s. I thought this was one of the best shows ever when the whole original cast was there. After Mike and Gloria left, it just wasn't the same.
Part of what made the program so funny was the arguing between Archie and Mike. Off camera everyone got along well were friendly, and they were not like the characters they played.
That is real credit to Caroll OConnor and Jean Stapleton, who was hilarious as Edith. They played their roles very convincingly. Sally Struthers actually had her own short lived program called Gloria. She played a single mom and worked for a vet. I liked the show, although it only lasted a short time.
When Charlie's Angels premiered in 1976, it made instant stars of Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson.
The three women were police officers on the show and tired of doing menial jobs. Theys were hired by a mysterious man named Charlie who never appeared on screen He hired them as private investigators. Credit: Public Domain
Of course, every week at least one of the characters would end up in a perilous situation, and the stories were all cheesy, but it was fun to watch. Farrah left the show after one season and was replaced by Cheryl Ladd. Kate Jackson left later and Shelley Hack was on for one season, followed by Tonya Roberts the last year. Jaclyn Smith was the only original angel who stayed for the entire series, and she still speaks fondly of the show.
The Waltons was a wholesome TV drama about a family during the Great Depression. It was created by Earl Hammer and based on his book Spencer's Mountain.
The stories were mostly seen through the eyes of John boy Walton, who was a journalist. It made an instant star of Richard Thomas, who played John boy.
It was fun to see the children grow up, during its nine seasons. Several of them married and started families of their own. I didn't find it the same once Richard Thomas left as well as Michael Learned. However, it certainly was one of the most family friendly and excellent programs ever on TV.
The drama Fantasy Island, was a Saturday night staple which followed The Love Boat. Saturdays had highly rated shows, including Mary Tyler Moore and All in the Family.
Fantasy Island centered around Mr Roarke, always dressed in a while suit, and overseer of the mysterious island. People would come from around the world to have their fantasies fulfilled for a price. He had a popular sidekick named Tatoo.
Fantasy Island had guest stars every week who were very well known at the time. This undoubtedly contributed to the show's success.
As people arrived on the island Roake would describe to Tatoo the reason each person was arriving, and often suggested the fantasy would not turn out as the person had expected. Many times the outcome would be quite different, but it always ended on a positive note.
The series was a fun escape, as we may also think of our fantasies, and what life would be like if they were fulfilled.
Laverne and ShirleyCredit: Public Domain
This great show was a successful spin off from Happy Days. Laverne and Shirley were roommates who lived in Milwaukee for most of the series run. Later they moved to California.
The series was so successful it passed Happy Days in the ratings, and Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams were one of the highest paid TV actresses at the time.
Laverne and Shirley reminded me in some ways of Lucy and Ethel in I Love Lucy. They always seemed to be getting into predicaments, and they were very funny. The supporting characters were also good, including Lenny and Squiggy.
There were many other programs that were popular and memorable from the 60s and 70s. Others include The Rockford Files, The Man From UNCLE, Get Smart, and MASH.